Sunday, February 16, 2020

Taking India back to stone age - Stripping Girls in Bhuj's College Hostel

 This is the mission statement of Sahajanand Girls Institute. What I see here is a grandiose vision, which if we compare with recent stories come out from there, is anything but true. Reading this reminds me of Voltaire's lines, "the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire".

Firstly, "quality education of global standards"? What is happening is not anywhere related to global standards; "based on current advances in science, technology and societal demands"; current advances in science? well, current is referring to which century? "Self development and empowerment of girls through modern, scientific and value based education"; is this degraded life is the empowerment, modernity and scientific level they are talking about?

College has about 1500 students of which, 68 coming from remote villages are staying in hostels. To give you the perspective, Kutch is the biggest district in India and the land is challenging for humans. Kutch is 1.17 times bigger than entire state of Kerala, but the population is 1/16 of Kerala. Population density of Kutch is just 46/km square.

Current spiral of events started with complaint from hostel rector to principal. As per the complaint, some girls had been violating their religious norms for menstruating females. 

According to norms,
menstruating females are barred from entering temples and kitchen
Forbidden to touch other students etc.

On that unforgiven day, while attending lectures hostelers were called from classrooms and queued up outside. Principal asked about girls who had periods, two were stepped aside. But this dreadful saga didn't stop there, all were taken to washroom, had their undergarments removed; so that teachers can check whether they are menstruating or not. 

In any western country this action results in million-dollar lawsuits and civil or probably even criminal proceedings against teachers and school. Well, this is India here probably after a routine police investigation (that also if the degree of protests is high) things will settle soon.

What we need to have is a complete overhaul in society’s outlook towards menses and menstruating women. As the case is with current India, this is not something which society (especially women) should consider as shame or themes to be suppressed or put aside. This is a biological cycle and one of the most important towards the very survival of humanity. If society can worship shiva lingams, keep it in temples and homes; celebrate marriage and birth of a kid then why stigma related to menses?

This is something which social reformers of India should take up. Unfortunately, what current India has are keyboard warriors who very often forgets the present and took pride in an India which is built on their fantasies. Sri Narayana Guru, Jyotiba Phule, B R Ambedkar, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Baba Amte, Vinoba Bhave, Mother Teresa are long gone and there is hardly anyone to take up their work.

By the way, you can blame everything on patriarchal society and men; but in this case, I will blame women (or at least a major portion) as well. Hostel warden is a woman, so as the principal, and VC of university with which this college is affiliated. Let's see whether someone will act.   

As per Mirror's report, one trustee even told, "We run a charitable organisation and take token fee. As the institute has a temple on campus, the girls have been instructed to follow the sect’s rules. However, what happened to the students is unfair. Action will be taken". What this statement means, if the fee is less, students should go through all this?

Report states that, another trustee “told them that they could take legal action but would have to leave the hostel first. The students were also allegedly made to sign a letter claiming that “nothing had happened in college”” – The Print

These incidents are neither rare nor happening for the first time. Before also we saw reports from Kasturba Gandhi School in UP (in 2017) and this is not going to be the last time as well. Question is whether, we as society is ready to accept menses as what it is and not as shame.



1. 68 girls in Kutch institute hostel forced to undergo ‘strip’ - TOI
2.68 girls in Bhuj college forced to remove undies, prove they weren’t menstruating - Ahmadabad Mirror
3. In Gujarat college, 68 girls forced to remove underwear to prove they weren’t menstruating – The Print.

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